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Hundred days of hunger strike: "Sentsov case" timeline

19:30, 21 August 2018
10 min. 135

Ukrainian political prisoner, film director Oleh Sentsov is on the brink of life and death. He was illegally imprisoned in the Russian colony in Labytnangi and has been starving for 100 days already.

UNIAN publishes the timeline of what it took for the Kremlin prisoner so far to survive his time in the Russian dungeon.

May 8-9, 2014

Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Hennady Afanasyev, and Oleksiy Chirnyi were detained by the FSB in Simferopol on charges of terorism.

May 11, 2014

Sentsov was transferred to the Moscow detention center Lefortovo. According to Dmitry Dinze, Sentsov's lawyer, detectives tried to interrogate the Ukrainian, but he initially refused to testify and denied all charges.

May 19, 2014

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Serhiy Kyslytsya asked the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to give a proper assessment of the fact of the detention of the well-known Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov and other Ukrainians by the Russian security forces in the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea.

May 26-28, 2014

At the request of the Ukrainian side, the Russian Foreign Ministry officially announced that Sentsov and other citizens of Ukraine were detained as suspects in committing crimes related to terrorism. Later, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry received a note from the Russian Federation, in which the charges were briefly announced. In particular, the text stated that Ukrainians are suspected of organizing terrorist activities, preparing crimes, illegally purchasing and carrying weapons.

"We will take all necessary measures envisaged by the conventions in order to obtain more detailed information from the Russian Federation about the place of detention of Ukrainian citizens and their charges," Yevhen Perebyinis, director of the Information Policy Department of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, said. In response, the Consular Section of the Ukrainian Embassy in Russia sent an additional request to the Federal Security Service of Russia for a consular officer to be allowed a meeting with Sentsov and two other detained Ukrainians.

May 30, 2014

The FSB officially declared that all detainees were members of the "sabotage and terrorist group," representatives of the "Right Sector," and allegedly intended to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in Simferopol, Yalta and Sevastopol, and subsequently to destroy a number of vital infrastructure facilities, railway bridges and power lines. At the same time, in homes of accused Ukrainians law enforcers allegedly found explosives, firearms, ammunition, canisters with incendiaries, and nationalist paraphernalia. The Right Sector refuted any involvement of Sentsov and other detainees in any of their activities. "He [Sentsov] is a patriot who simply wanted to live in his native Ukrainian land, and the current Kremlin regime persecutes all those who consider Crimea part of Ukraine. As far as I know, he is not a member of the Right Sector," said the then speaker for the organization, Artem Skoropadsky.

June 6, 2014

The FSB put forward an indictment against Oleg Sentsov, accusing him of "terrorism." The Ukrainian consul was denied access to the detainee.

July 4-8, 2014

The then Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Human Rights Commissioner Valeria Lutkovska twice applied to the Human Rights Commissioner of the Russian Federation, Ella Pamfilova for the protection of the rights of the detained Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov, and also drew attention to the information obtained, in particular, from Oleh's lawyer about the application of torture to the detainee, as well as the denied access of the consul of Ukraine to Sentsov, which creates obstacles in providing consular and legal assistance.

July 7, 2014

Lefortovo Court of Moscow extended Sentsov's arrest until October 11.

July 10, 2014

Lutkovskaya said that Sentsov could not meet with the Ukrainian consul, as Russia considered him a Russian citizen. "The Russian Federation, as is known, has passed legislation according to which the acquisition of Russian citizenship for Crimean residents was automatic unless the person independently renounced Russian citizenship. For such refusal, only a month was given," Lutkovska recalled. According to her, Sentsov was already in the remand center at that time and could not physically refuse from Russian citizenship, and, therefore, Russian citizenship was forcibly imposed on him.

July 17, 2014

Oleh Sentsov filed an appeal with Russian ombudsperson Ella Pamfilova with a request for assistance in the confirmation of his Ukrainian citizenship.

August 8, 2014

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry made the first statement that Sentsov and other Ukrainian citizens who are held hostage on the territory of the Russian Federation are considered political prisoners. According to the report, the Russian Federation launched a systemic attack on the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens, violating universal norms and principles of international law.

August 25, 2014

Bulgarian lawyer Jonko Grozev, acting on the side of Oleh Sentsov's defense, filed a "full, justified and motivated complaint" with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about the illegally selected preventive measure to hold the Ukrainian in custody.


According to another defender of Sentsov, Mr Dinze,  the process to select a measure of restraint against his client was unlawful. "De facto and de jure, the trial was illegal. De jure, the norms of the legislation of the Federal Constitutional Law on Transitional Provisions and on the establishment of courts on the territory of the Republic of Crimea and the Prosecutor's Offices, and, accordingly, the actions of the lawyer within the framework of these courts and prosecutors, were not observed. De facto, when they all gathered in the territory of Crimea and selected a preventive measure, the transitional provisions only began to operate and work. Those who selected the measure of restraint in the form of detention – the judge, prosecutor and lawyer – they all, firstly, did not have Russian citizenship, and, secondly, did not pass qualifying exams on the knowledge of Russian legislation," he noted.

September 10, 2014

The international human rights organization Amnesty International has demanded from the Russian authorities to release Oleh Sentsov. The then Head of the SBU Valentyn Nalyvaychenko said that Sentsov was on the lists of detainees, whose exchange was envisaged by Minsk agreements.

September 29, 2014

The Lefortovo District Court ordered the extension of Sentsov's arrest for three months - until January 11, 2015. By this time, Sentsov had been imprisoned for eight months.

October 24, 2014

The Moscow City Court did not satisfy the appeal filed by the defense of Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov on the decision to extend the term of arrest.

December 21-26, 2014

The Moscow court began the consideration of the Sentsov and Kolchenko case on merits. At the hearing, Sentsov called the investigation into his case "a spiritual session in the ward for the mentally ill" and wished that 2015 be the last year for the "lying regime" of the Russian Federation. As Sentsov noted, the main evidence of his guilt is the presence of two plastic bottles with salt and metal shavings. Besides, according to the film director, he was detained a day earlier than it was recorded in the documents, and all this time he was being tortured in order to obtain confessions from him.


On December 26, the Moscow City Lefortovo District Court granted the investigator's petition and extended the detention of Oleg Sentsov until April 11, 2015. The Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation recognized Sentsov and Kolchenko citizens of the Russian Federation, since after the annexation of the peninsula they "did not express the will" to retain another citizenship.

February 9, 2015

The Moscow City Court rejected the appeal of the defense and upheld the decision of the first instance court to extend Sentsov's arrest until April 11.

April 8, 2015

A hearing was held in Lefortovo District Court of Moscow to extend the measure of restraint to Sentsov. The director at the court said that the FSB investigators threatened him with imprisonment for 20 years. "I am sure that on April 10 I will be presented with a very beautiful, neat case, where 20 years will be declared, unequivocally. They named this term on the first day of my official detention. This is a settled issue, and this is constantly being said to me and my lawyer. I'm not afraid of these threats, and this period - 20 years - is not frightening to me," said Sentsov. On the same day, the court extended the arrest of the Ukrainian film director until May 11.

June 11, 2015

Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation upheld the indictment in the criminal case against Oleh Sentsov. According to the pre-trial investigation, Sentsov set up a "terrorist organization operating on the territory of the Republic of Crimea, a structural subdivision of the Right Sector organization" (its activities are banned in Russia by the court), whose goals were to destabilize the activities of the Republic's authorities and affect decision-making by the authorities Russian Federation on the withdrawal of this Republic from its composition." After that, the case was transferred to the North Caucasus District Military Court for examination on the merits.

July 21, 2015 The court began the first hearing of the Sentsov case on merits. The director did not plead guilty.

August 25, 2015

The Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov to 20 years' imprisonment, finding him guilty of crimes under six articles of the Russian Criminal Code, totaling 53 years of imprisonment.

In particular, the court found him guilty of creating a "terrorist organization, that is, a stable group of individuals who had conspired to carry out terrorist activities, as well as of leading this terrorist organization." In addition, he was found guilty of committing "two terrorist acts, committing arsons, frightening the population and creating the threat of death of a person, causing significant property damage with the aim of influencing decision-making by authorities, as part of an organized group, that is, of two crimes." And also of "preparing a terrorist act, an explosion, frightening the population, creating the threat of death of a person, causing significant property damage with the aim of destabilizing the authorities and influencing decision-making by government bodies, as part of an organized group." The Russian court also found Sentsov guilty of attempted illegal acquisition of explosive devices as part of an organized group and of the illegal acquisition of firearms... After the verdict was announced, Sentsov and Kolchenko sang the anthem of Ukraine.

September 4, 2015

Defense of the Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov filed with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation an appeal against the verdict, according to which Sentsov was sentenced to a 20-year imprisonment. It began to be considered only in November, after which the verdict was upheld.

February 2016

Oleh Sentsov's lawyer Dmitry Dinze reported that both Ukrainians - Sentsov and Kolchenko - were sent to serve their sentence in the climate-harsh and remote regions of Russia in order to complicate the work of their defense. At the end of February, Oleh Sentsov said that he was sent to Yakutia, after which he disappeared for almost a month "from radars" - he had no contact with lawyers and the Ukrainian ombudsperson.

October 21, 2016

Russia's Ministry of Justice for the first time officially refused to extradite Sentsov, arguing that he is a citizen of the Russian Federation, and Russian legislation prohibits the extradition of Russian citizens to third countries, even if they have a second citizenship other than Russian. Although in April 2016, simultaneously with the submission of documents for the extradition of Sentsov and Kolchenko to Ukraine, the Russian ombudsperson officially confirmed their Ukrainian citizenship. "The Ukrainian citizenship of Sentsov and Kolchenko is officially confirmed and no one doubts it," said in the office of the Russian ombudsperson.

October 13, 2017

After almost a year in the Yakutia colony, Sentsov was sent to the Polar Bear colony of the town of Labytnangi in Yamal, where the Ukrainian has been kept ever since.

May 16, 2018

Sentsov announced an indefinite hunger strike, to which he had been preparing for a month and a half, demanding the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. As Oleh's cousin Natalya Kaplan later wrote, the hunger strike came as a surprise to his family. According to Sentsov himself, he is not going to stop the hunger strike until all Ukrainian political prisoners have been released.

June 15-29, 2018

Ukrainian Ombudsperson Liudmyla Denisova headed to the colony in Labytnangi for a meeting with the Ukrainian film director. The reason for her trip was that there was information about a sharp worsening of Sentsov's health. At the same time, Russian Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova arrived in Ukraine, intending to visit Russian detainees in Ukrainian prisons. But Denisova was denied access to Sentsov. In addition, she was refused information about the health status of the Kremlin's political prisoner and was asked to leave the colony. The Kremlin claimed that Oleh Sentsov, illegally convicted in Russia, was not a "detainee" and refused to answer why the Ukrainian ombudsperson was denied access. Moreover, later Tatiana Moskalkova said that her Ukrainian colleague Liudmyla Denisova went to the colony to visit Oleh Sentsov on a "personal initiative," and that her visit had not been coordinated. Denisova was even refused to see Sentsov via a video link, which was extremely alarming. The Kremlin, on a direct question on whether Oleh Sentsov is still alive, said that they "have no information." Denisova later reported that Sentsov could be forcibly fed, thus, in effect, being exposed to torture, but later his lawyer refuted the claim.

June 30, 2018

The Kremlin received two applications for Sentsov's pardon - from his mother Sentsova and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland. But the Kremlin referred to the fact that Sentsov ostensibly should ask for a pardon himself, although if one takes into account the release of Nadiia Savchenko, Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz, this is not a prerequisite for pardon.

July 5, 2018

Sentsov's cousin Natalia Kaplan was allowed access to him. She reported that her cousin had grown very old and lost 15 kg. "They provide a dropper, a so-called supportive therapy. Without this, he would not have survived, he's aware of that. There was no force-feeding, but he does not rule out that they could apply this," Kaplan said.

August 8, 2018

Natalia Kaplan received a letter from Sentsov that his condition had deteriorated sharply. "Everything is not just bad, everything is catastrophically bad. Through his lawyer, Oleh passed me the letter. He almost does not get up from bed. He wrote that the end was near, and it was not about the release. He asks if anyone else is interested in his hunger strike. He does not receive letters. No letters! He says that he is now in an information vacuum and does not even know what is happening," Kaplan wrote on Facebook.

August 9, 2018

Russian Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova sent three pictures of the illegally convicted Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov from his cell to Ukrainian Ombudsperson Liudmyla Denisova. "According to the information she was given, Oleh is active, he walks to watch TV, reads books, writes something from time to time. Everyone, I quote, is surprised how he manages to get by; his condition is satisfactory," Denisova said. Sentsov's lawyer Dmitry Dinze said that the film director, who hasd already had three crises by this time, could soon experience organ failure.

August 12, 2018

A journalist of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Viktoriya Ivleva, said that the plane with the Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov flew from the city of Salekhard, but the Kremlin refuted this information. In turn, Natalia Kaplan's cousin Natalia Kaplan called not to voice any information about the release of Oleh Sentsov until he actually leaves Russia.

August 14, 2018

The Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments of Russia (FSIN) allowed Russian human rights activist Zoya Svetova to visit Oleh Sentsov in the colony. According to her, she talked with the film director for two hours in the presence of the chief of the colony and two other staff. Sentzov called his state precritical.

On the same days, one and a half months after the pardon petition was filed, Sentsov's mother received a response, which, in fact, said her appeal was denied consideration.

August 16, 2018

More than ten people convicted of crimes against the sovereignty of Ukraine asked the Russian president to exchange them for Ukrainian political prisoners, in particular Oleh Sentsov. The representative of Ukraine in Minsk group, Iryna Gerashchenko, stated that Ukraine was ready to transfer 36 saboteurs, spies, terrorists and thieves in exchange for the liberation of Ukrainian political prisoners. However, there has been no response from the Russian side to the proposal.

August 19, 2018

The site of the Merlek-Putin meeting near Berlin saw rallies calling for the Kremlin to release Oleh Sentsov. Such actions are being held internationally, in any country where the Russian president appears. However, the Kremlin leader is not in a hurry to "stop the murder of Oleh Sentsov."

August 21, 2018

The illegally convicted Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov has been on hunger strike for 100 days. "Sentsov has been on a hunger strike for 100 days. A terrible count. Human life is the highest value. We demand that the Russian Federation immediately release Oleh," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa said. In addition, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry appealed to international partners of Ukraine and international organizations to increase pressure on Russia to release Ukrainian political prisoners.


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